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LATEST REVIEWS
DARLIN'
"Perhaps not spun far enough off from its predecessors."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Darlin'" is a weird one, strange enough to make me wonder if it would play better or worse if I'd seen the previous films in this somewhat loose series. You don't actually need "Offspring" or "The Woman" to make sense of it, but even so, it's not hard to sense that something isn't quite right here, like it would be a stronger movie if it were more free to be entirely its own thing or a more direct continuation." (more)
ASTRONAUT (2019)
"Richard Dreyfuss still yearns for space."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There are times when I lament modestly-scaled movies being lucky to get a blip of a release in theaters as they head to the small screen, and there are other times when the likely-small theatrical release they will receive alongside their on-demand premieres seems like a nice little bonus. "Astronaut" falls into the latter category, pleasantly intimate but losing little when played for a crowd." (more)
WHITE STORM 2: DRUG LORDS, THE
"Worth sitting through to get to the insane car chase."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "As much as I liked "The White Storm" when I saw it in 2014, I didn't know it was successful enough to become a crime-movie brand, in that apparently any movie about former allies turned enemies in the drug trade could wind up released under that banner. That's what this film is - a similar outline with new characters that has to work to reach the same melodramatic highs, although there's no arguing against the action when the gloves come completely off." (more)
VIVARIUM
"if nothing else, a unique suburban hell."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The festival's second movie featuring the pairing of Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg in as many nights is even stranger than "The Art of Self-Defense" with some of the same satirical ambitions, although that seems more of a gateway to weird things than the point of the exercise here. Weird wins almost every battle with incisive here, and there are definite pleasures in that, although that makes the movie even more not-for-everyone." (more)
ART OF SELF-DEFENSE, THE
"A comedy with the subtlety and technique of a well-executed karate chop."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: From the big desktop computers in the offices to the jokes built around answering machines rather than mobile phones, it seems likely that Riley Stearns's "The Art of Self-Defense" takes place too early for the phrase "toxic masculinity" to have been in common use, so he has to address that sort of issue even more plainly. The result is a delightfully weird deadpan comedy that is laser-focused on how something can be both awful and absurd, filled with laughs for those who enjoy dark, screwy humor. It's got no place for subtlety but that's far from the only way to land a good joke." (more)
CRAWL
"Plenty Of Gators But A Total Crock."
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "At the time that I am writing this, the Chicago area has been focused for the last few days on the Humboldt Park area where an alligator approximately five feet in length has turned up in a local lagoon. Although the creature, dubbed Chance the Snapper has largely been in hiding and there have only been a few glimpses to prove to that it is actually there, crowds have been flocking to the lagoon to stand out in the heat staring at nothing for hours on end in the hopes of getting a look at it. They may not actually get to see the thing for themselves but my guess is that they are almost certainly having more fun than anyone going out this weekend to plunk down money to go see the lousy alligator attack movie “Crawl.” At least at the lagoon, there is the slight possibility that something interesting or exciting might occur, which is not the case with this bargain basement (literally) rip-off that too often looks and feels like a SyFy Channel thriller with a slightly higher budget but even less point or purpose." (more)
SWALLOW
"Strange but surprisingly easy to digest."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2019 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Swallow" turns out to be just the right sort of low-key unnerving it needs to be, though it would have been exceptionally easy to overshoot the mark. It's a film about disquiet and discontent, so while it's entirely appropriate for it to occasionally make the audience cringe, it can't run away with things and make its admittedly disturbed main character seem nuts. Instead, it's impressively sympathetic even when it could be a freakshow." (more)
PERFECTION, THE
"Worth seeing once, I guess. There are more pleasant films."
3 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Netflix’s new thriller 'The Perfection' (with its impossible-to-remember title) relies on the type of screaming twists and turns on a dime that can stymie a reviewer. How can you talk about a movie like this to people who may not have seen it without nuking its surprises? You can’t, so I am obliged to sketch and suggest." (more)
LUCE
"Wins the debate but may not be convincing."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2019: "Luce" is a clever film that often leans a bit too hard on its cleverness, especially in the first half. The filmmakers seemingly love to show a small facet of something and make it very clear that there's more to be seen and maybe they'll get to it later, or to lay out facts and perspectives in debate-team style, pointing out that it's working with semantics rather than being straightforward or even playing at being straightforward." (more)
LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO, THE
"Beautiful film about a beautiful city that sometimes doesn't love you back."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... ""The Last Black Man in San Francisco" may be the year's best tale of unrequited love; it's certainly the one where the camera most clearly adores its subjects. That the object of that adoration is a house or a city hardly matters." (more)

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